Empirics on the Origins of Preferences: The Case of College Major and Religiosity

35 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2009 Last revised: 27 Jun 2021

See all articles by Miles S. Kimball

Miles S. Kimball

University of Colorado Boulder; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; Center for Economic and Social Research, USC; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Colter Mitchell

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Survey Research Center

Arland Thornton

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Survey Research Center

Linda Young-Demarco

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Survey Research Center

Date Written: July 2009

Abstract

Early life experiences are likely to be important for the formation of preferences. Religiosity is a key dimension of preferences, affecting many economic outcomes. This paper examines the effect of college major on religiosity, and the converse effect of religiosity on college major, using panel data from the Monitoring the Future survey as a way of gauging the extent to which various streams of thought, as taught in college, affect religiosity. Two key questions, based on the differences in college experience across majors, are whether either (a) the Scientific worldview or (b) Postmodernism has negative effects on religiosity as these streams of thought are actually transmitted at the college level. The results show a decline in religiosity of students majoring in the social sciences and humanities, but a rise in religiosity for those in education and business. After initial choices, those respondents with high levels of religiosity are more likely to enter college. Of those who are in college, people with high levels of religiosity tend to go into the humanities and education over other majors.

Suggested Citation

Kimball, Miles S. and Mitchell, Colter and Thornton, Arland and Young-Demarco, Linda, Empirics on the Origins of Preferences: The Case of College Major and Religiosity (July 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1438856

Miles S. Kimball (Contact Author)

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Colter Mitchell

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Survey Research Center ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI
United States

Arland Thornton

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Survey Research Center ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI
United States

Linda Young-Demarco

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Survey Research Center ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI
United States

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